Machias board denies opening streets to ATVs

Posted July 13, 2011, at 9:01 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — The Machias selectmen dealt with a wide range of issues Wednesday night, including ATVs on public roads, an explosion of stray cats, and the gift of a new deck at Bad Little Falls Park.

A request by James Ackley of Water Street to open up a number of town streets for ATVs and snowmobiles was denied by the board.

“We’ve heard this before,” Chairman Aubrey “Skip” Carter told Ackley. “This is the second time. We know that some of our neighboring communities have opened up their streets but they are not as built up as Machias.”

Ackley wanted to provide access from the Down East Sunrise Trail to the opposite side of the Machias River through several residential neighborhoods. He proposed several plans that would open up Gardner, Drisko, West, Court, Grove, Howard, Elm, North and Lyons Streets for recreational vehicles.

“I’m not trying to open up the whole town,” Ackley said.

Police Chief Grady Dwelley said the town could not allow passage on either Route 1 or Route 1A because they are state roads. Several others at the meeting mentioned that the area Ackley suggested is mostly residential. The selectmen unanimously denied Ackley’s request.

The town’s Animal Control Officer Kevin Nelson informed the board that the shelter the town uses, the Ellsworth Small Animal Clinic, may be violating its contract with the town. Nelson, who serves as ACO for Machias, East Machias and Steuben, said there has been an explosion in the stray and feral cat population this summer.

Nelson said he has brought 50 cats to the clinic in the past six weeks. He said one house on Water Street has about 30 cats and kittens. “There’s no end to cats on Water Street,” he said.

Nelson said he also counted 20 feral cats on Berry Avenue. One resident on Berry Avenue was bitten by one of the strays on Sunday and that cat is currently in quarantine.

When he brought five cats from Machias to the clinic on July 2, Nelson said the staff told him they would no longer accept cats from him because he was bringing too many. Nelson said he was forced to sign a form that gave the clinic permission to euthanize all five cats.

“I was very uncomfortable with that,” Nelson said. Not only did the town pay $35 for the clinic to accept the stray, it paid an additional $45 for euthanizing.

Town Manager Chris Loughlin said the clinic’s contract does not specify a limit on the number of cats that will be accepted. Loughlin said he will contact the clinic but advised the selectmen that they should start looking at other options for strays.

In other business, the board:

  1. Approved the Beehive Collective’s donation of a new deck in Bad Little Falls Park.
  2. Approved a street dance and beer tent sponsored by the Machias Valley Area Chamber of Commerce for Friday, Aug. 19.
  3. Appointed Eric Holm to the Machias School Committee.
  4. Set Saturday, August 20 as the alternate date for fireworks.
  5. Appointed Ryan Jordan to the Machias Fire Department and Kenneth Joris as backup driver and dispatcher.

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